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Hillfort, bowl barrow and associated remains on The Caburn

A Scheduled Monument in Glynde, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8619 / 50°51'42"N

Longitude: 0.051 / 0°3'3"E

OS Eastings: 544437.689705

OS Northings: 108938.742146

OS Grid: TQ444089

Mapcode National: GBR LRG.V0L

Mapcode Global: FRA B6ZT.KPP

Entry Name: Hillfort, bowl barrow and associated remains on The Caburn

Scheduled Date: 23 February 1933

Last Amended: 10 April 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014527

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27029

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Glynde

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: Glynde St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes the earthworks and interior of a small multivallate
hillfort, and an adjacent, earlier, Bronze Age bowl barrow, situated on a
prominent spur of the Sussex Downs. The spur slopes down steeply to the south,
west and east and overlooks the Ouse valley to the south west. A 20th century
army slit trench is also included in the scheduling.
The hillfort defences, which survive as earthworks varying in date,
complication and width, enclose a subcircular area of c.3ha. Part excavation
in 1937-1938 revealed the hilltop to have undergone a complex history of
development involving several phases of settlement and reconstruction from the
Iron Age to the medieval period. The first phase preceded the construction of
the hillfort and is represented by the buried traces of two circular wooden
buildings discovered within the interior of the later hillfort. These have
been interpreted as forming part of an unenclosed Iron Age village dating from
at least c.300 BC. Associated finds of iron slag indicate that iron products
were produced by the inhabitants, while spindle whorls, loom weights and
fragments of quernstone suggest that the village enjoyed a largely self-
sufficient, mixed farming economy. At least 139 associated pits were
discovered within the interior of the hillfort, mostly used for grain storage
and rubbish dumping. An urned cremation burial found under the southern
counterscarp bank of the later hillfort also dates to this period.
The second phase involved the building of a single line of defence around the
settlement in c.100 BC. Constructed of dumped earth and chalk rubble, this
inner rampart survives as a low bank c.6m wide and up to 0.3m high surrounded
by a partly infilled ditch now measuring c.6m wide and up to 1.3m deep.
Access to the interior was provided by a slightly inturned, causewayed
entrance lying towards the north east. The ditch is encircled by a slight
counterscarp bank c.2m wide on its southern side.
At around the time of the Roman invasion in AD 43 the defences were reinforced
by the addition of a second rampart and ditch on the northern side of the
hillfort, which was vulnerable to attack from across the level ground to the
north. This was an earth wall reinforced by wooden framing and retained on its
inner side by a continuous line of upright timbers. The rampart survives as an
earthwork feature c.10m wide and up to 2m high, flanked by a partly
infilled, outer ditch now measuring c.4m wide and 0.5m deep. At this time, the
north eastern entrance was elaborated with an extended entrance passage and a
new, more simply designed entrance was formed by the levelling of a c.5m
stretch of the defences on the north western side of the monument. Soon after
this, the hillfort was abandoned, and traces of burning found at the north
eastern gateway suggest that this may have occurred because of a successful
enemy attack.
Evidence from the excavation suggests that the hillfort was repaired and
reused for a time during the late Roman or early medieval period. During the
mid 12th century, the site was refortified as a defensive outpost, probably
during the civil wars of King Stephen's reign. This involved the construction
of a third rampart around the northern side of the monument, which survives as
a slight bank c.0.5m high flanked by an outer ditch c.6m wide and c.2m deep.
This is in turn flanked by a slight bank up to c.0.5m high.
A low bank which runs for c.100m parallel to the northern ramparts of the
hillfort c.20m from their north western edge is interpreted as an associated
outwork. The ramparts and interior have been partly disturbed in places by
19th century flint digging.
The earlier, Bronze Age bowl barrow lies adjacent to the north eastern
entrance of the later hillfort. It has a mound c.9.5m in diameter and c.0.4m
high, with a slight central hollow, indicating part excavation. The mound
is surrounded by a ditch from which material used to construct the barrow was
excavated. This has become infilled over the years, but survives as a buried
feature c.2m wide.
Around 30m to the north west of the bowl barrow is a modern army slit trench,
dug as part of army training activities carried out here during and after
World War II. This has a roughly square outer bank with sides measuring c.9m
enclosing a deeply excavated ditch.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Small multivallate hillforts are defined as fortified enclosures of varying
shape, generally between 1 and 5ha in size and located on hilltops. They are
defined by boundaries consisting of two or more lines of closely set
earthworks spaced at intervals of up to 15m. These entirely surround the
interior except on sites located on promontories, where cliffs may form one or
more sides of the monument. They date to the Iron Age period, most having been
constructed and occupied between the sixth century BC and the mid-first
century AD. Small multivallate hillforts are generally regarded as settlements
of high status, occupied on a permanent basis. Recent interpretations suggest
that the construction of multiple earthworks may have had as much to do with
display as with defence. Earthworks may consist of a rampart alone or of a
rampart and ditch which, on many sites, are associated with counterscarp banks
and internal quarry scoops. Access to the interior is generally provided by
one or two entrances, which either appear as simple gaps in the earthwork or
inturned passages, sometimes with guardrooms. The interior generally consists
of settlement evidence including round houses, four and six post structures
interpreted as raised granaries, roads, pits, gullies, hearths and a variety
of scattered post and stake holes. Evidence from outside numerous examples of
small multivallate hillforts suggests that extra-mural settlement was of a
similar nature. Small multivallate hillforts are rare with around 100 examples
recorded nationally. Most are located in the Welsh Marches and the south-west
with a concentration of small monuments in the north-east. In view of the
rarity of small multivallate hillforts and their importance in understanding
the nature of settlement and social organisation within the Iron Age period,
all examples with surviving archaeological remains are believed to be of
national importance.

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments
dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most
examples belonging to the period 2400-500 BC. They were constructed as earthen
or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple burials.
They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often acted as a
focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar, although
differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form and a
diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl barrows
recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring across
most of lowland Britain. Often occupying prominent locations, they are a major
historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable variation of
form and longevity as a monument type provide important information on the
diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst prehistoric communities.
They are particularly representative of their period and a substantial
proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of protection.
The small multivallate hillfort on The Caburn survives well and has been shown
by part excavation to contain archaeological and environmental evidence
relating to its complex history and development. The hillfort is unusual in
that it has been shown to have undergone a late phase of redevelopment and
reuse during the medieval period. Around 500m to the north west is an
unfinished large univallate hillfort known as Ranscombe Camp. These hillforts
are broadly contemporary and their close association will provide evidence for
the sequence of settlement in this area during the Iron Age. The adjacent,
earlier bowl barrow survives comparatively well and will also contain
archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the changing pattern of
landuse on the spur during the prehistoric period. The World War II slit
trench illustrates the use of the Sussex Downs for army training during the
20th century.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Holmes, J, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Excavations at Hollingbury Camp, Sussex, 1967-9, , Vol. 122, (1984), 51
Wilson, A E, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Excavations at The Caburn 1938, (1939), 193-216
Wilson, A E, 'Sussex Archaeological Collections' in Excavations at The Caburn 1938, (1939), 193-216
source 3, RCHME, TQ 40 NW 30,

Source: Historic England

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